#AtoZChallenge: The Name is Ida. Aunty Ida.


As Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) counts down its final hours of the the $0.99 price, it seemed like a good time to talk about characters. Specifically one character. Because today is I and her name starts with an I and–


Anyway, when it comes to writing, characters simply come to me. Sometimes I get a line; sometimes it’s a name; sometimes it’s a situation. I rarely know anything about my characters when I first meet them, so readers and I are in the same boat.

Aunty Ida sprung, wholesale, from the title of the book, which I had long, long before there was a book. I didn’t know what to make of her the first time Margaret meets her; she simply appeared, this odd, brilliant scientist, sweeping the upright Judge Margaret Hamerton-Simpary into her brightly-colored and very off-kilter world.

Though Margaret drove the story — how I fought that character for control every inch of the way! And in the end, she was right — Aunty Ida shaped it, every watchful.

Sometimes, as much as this will make me sound like I’m in need of Ida’s services myself, it feels as though I’m tapping into people who exist somewhere else in the universe. And I think, when it comes to writing, that’s the key.

If your characters feel real, feel weighty, feel like they could exist somewhere to you, your readers will believe in them too.

11 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: The Name is Ida. Aunty Ida.

  1. I know exactly what you mean about a title coming first or in the very beginning stages of the story process.

    I am laying out the plot of a new historical fiction novel over my 26 A to Z posts. I’d love to have you stop by. Most of my posts are quick character sketches where I lay out the skeletons of each character’s qualities.

    The Steel Horse Saviors is a story about three civil war veterans who head west in 1866 with their Steam Locomotive to seek their fortune. They encounter a beautiful redhead trying desperately to save her family business that threatens to complicate their plan to escape their past.

    Joe @ the Fiction Playground visiting from the A to Z Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d be happy to stop by! That’s a really interesting idea. As a dedicated pantser, I couldn’t possibly plan out a plot like that! (Though apparently spontaneous alliteration is a go;)


      • I want to write this during 2017 National Novel Writing Month. As soon as the A to Z ends I will shelve it for six months to let it percolate in my head. Then come November 1st I will dive in. If you are doing NaNoWriMo let me know and I will cheer you on.


  2. My characters come to me full blown as well. Sometimes they are composites of people I know. For example, many of them embody the qualities I admire most in my own daughter. Thanks for dropping by and visiting me. Your characters sound intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. debscarey

    Having just finished “Aunty Ida’s Full Service Mental Institution” (many thanks for the discounted price) I can agree with your viewpoint. I missed Ida when she wasn’t on the page – whether in person or via one of her many little ways (avoiding spoilers ‘n all).

    Oh & I thoroughly enjoyed the book and promise to write my review soon. Sunday maybe, when we have nothing better to do (supposedly!)

    Bunny and the Bloke

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! I’m so glad to hear it, and thanks for taking the time to review it! Though you needn’t have paid, I will always provide review copies 🙂

      She nags me all the time. Only other writers know it’s not something you need to get psychiatric help for!


  4. Arlee Bird

    If I don’t feel like a character really could exist in this world or some other dimension, then the whole story is going to be more difficult for me to swallow. I think that’s why I don’t get into fantasy genres so much.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interestingly, I’ve heard others say the same thing about fantasy.

      But I agree, characters are the backbone of any story, and if they aren’t solid and real, what’s the point?!


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